Morning Coffee: Banker with reputation for working juniors 80+ hours a week is unapologetic. Hedge fund’s 30 person ‘probing sessions’
These days, it’s become normal for banks to curtail the hours their juniors work and for juniors to be empowered to push back against senior staff who dump work on them late at night. At JP Morgan, the average young banker now works a ‘mere’ 72 hours a week, according to Wall Street Oasis. At Goldman Sachs, average weekly working hours are a snip at just 75.
Moelis & Co., however, consistently ranks towards the top of WSO’s chart for working hours. It did in 2017 and it did again for last year. At the boutique investment bank run by veteran dealmaker Ken Moelis, the average person claimed to work 84 hours a week in 2018. Only Russian bank VTB worked its bankers more.
This being so, you might think Ken would be offering words of reassurance to young bankers thinking of work for him, particularly as Glassdoor reviews for Moelis & Co. frequently cite the hours to be an issue. Ken, however, is having none of it. Instead, he told Business Insider that if you want to work in banking you have to be "willing to work hard" and that this willingness is the "key" to working in banking. This is partly because of clients, said Moelis: "...people hire us and they want us to work hard".
Nor is it just juniors who are expected to put the hours in at Moelis & Co. In a previous interview, from 2008, Ken said senior bankers are also differentiated by their work ethic: “I’ve always said that the investment banker who wins is the one who cares the most. … Do you actually care about the outcome? Are you up at two in the morning wondering about the details?”
Ken also had some advice for hardworking young people who want to change the world: go into banking instead of tech. Tech companies are overrated as agents of good: they’re just not mature enough to be trusted. “You know it takes a lot of years to establish a feeling of trust, loyalty and confidentiality,” said Ken. You have a lot of "leverage" in finance when, "you're sitting in the room with CEO's and executives and boards". Sitting in such a room is "quite an exhilarating place to be," he concluded - although whether it's still exhilarating after an 80 hour week is probably questionable.
Separately, everyone knows that highly profitable hedge fund Bridgewater has some curious cultural norms, but did anyone know about the probing? It seemingly happens a lot. Eileen Murray, Bridgewater's co-CEO says she is regularly subjected to "probing sessions" where she is questioned about her mistakes by 30 or more people. "Having a junior person question what I am doing after I've been doing it for so long? That was not initially for me," said Murray. It's a bit like being part of a big family, said Murray: "Sometimes, family tells you stuff that you don't want to hear, but you know it's coming from a loving place."
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